As the mystery of the murderous Titans, grotesque giants who have all but wiped out the human race, continues to unfurl in Hajime Isayama's blockbuster manga, Kodansha Comics is readying a new look at the epic of young Eren Jaeger, bringing in some of comics' greatest talents from outside of Japan for "Attack on Titan Anthology." The publisher previewed the anthology for Free Comic Book Day, and now Kodansha is prepared to reveal a bit more at Comic-Con International in San Diego. On hand for the panel were Kodansha editor Ben Applegate, Kate Leth, Jeremy Lambert, Brendan Fletcher, Ronald Wimberly, Jody Houser, and Babs Tarr.
Applegate began with an announcement about a deluxe edition of "Ghost in the Shell," the first three volumes with original Japanese sound effects and right to left orientation for the first time. Kodansha will also publish a deluxe box set of "Akira," all six volumes in hardcover, in right to left with original sound effects.
After a trailer for the anthology, Applegate showed pin-ups from Kevin Wada, Paulo Rivera, and Afua Richardson. Michael Avon Oeming will contribute a story, as will Fletcher, Cameron Stewart, and Babs Tarr, which will be set in at a convention. Asaf and Tomer Hanuka have a short, and Evan Dorkin will do gag strips. WImberly's first image from his story appeared, which seems to show a Titans puppet show. Wimberly said there are many real-life cameos in the story, including an appearance by a well-known person Applegate described as "a certain orange American."
Sam Humphries and Damion Scott are doing a story Applegate described as "Roald Dahl meets Attack on Titan. "The adults don't come out of this story intact," Applegate said.
Other teams include Simon Spurrier, Kate Brown, and Paul Duffield; Faith Erin Hicks, whose tale "Begins as a serious AoT drama and then goes somewhere completely different;" an in-universe travelogue from Genevieve Valentine and David Lopez; Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque, whose story Applegate said "is incredibly timely and very dramatic;" Phil Jimenez and Gail Simone, with Jimenez also doing a Diamond-exclusive cover. Paulo Rivera will do an exclusive cover for Books A Million and its Fried Pie distributor, Faith Erin Hicks will have an exclusive at Barnes and Noble, and there will be a New York Comic Con exclusive cover by Paul Pope. "This is only part of the image," Applegate said of the reveal on screen.
Discussing the appeal of the "Attack on Titan" manga and anime, the creators spoke enthusiastically of the technique and storytelling.
"It's kaiju, it's giant robots, it's body horror--It's a synthesis of a lot of different genres," Wimberly said.
"You think you know what happens in stories - the protagonist definitely survives, right?" Leth joked.
"Those tiny panels," Wimberly said. "As an artist, some of the things he's doing are really interesting as an artist. That's a rhythm." Applegate said he would like to rotate all the captions 90 degrees to more accurately reflect the Japanese reading experience.
As to how to describe it to a new reader a la an elevator pitch, Wimberly offered, "It's like 'Evil Dead' meets 'Evangelion.'"
"The Si Spurrier story is all about" the titans' childlike element, Applegate said. Wimberly added, "hey, if you just found a bunch of delicious things to eat, wouldn't you look like that too?"
Leth joked that editor Janine Schaefer prompted her to "add more murder."
"As someone who grew up on 'Sailor Moon' and CLAMP, I thought, 'oh, this is anime, this will be fine," Leth said. Applegate recounted some of his notes to Leth about killing major characters.
"My main note for Ron was 'less S&M,'" Applegate said.
"I basically pitched a graphic novel," Wimberly said. "You're doing 'Attack on Titan,' you want to do a whole year of it."
As Wimberly departed, Babs Tarr joined the panel. Houser joined shortly after.
"When I do get into horror, I really like the descent into madness, the unreliable narrator," Leth said, "so our story will do a lot of that.
Fletcher said that the FCBD sampler "got just to the point where you're about to see the good stuff" in his story with Stewart and Tarr.
"We didn't really get to do that [kind of stuff] in 'Batgirl,' it was all drawing cute girls -- but here, let's do horror," Tarr added. Applegate also joked about the American tendency to find humor in horror, which this convention comedy trades in extensively.
Fletcher said their story will "channel [AoT] through what we do best."
Houser said her story was more firmly rooted in the established AoT world, which Applegate described as a minority. "I think working within those restrictions really breeds creativity," Applegate said. Houser said her story will "deal with people dealing with the loss" rather than humanity's defenders, and "the role of art in this world."
"That's something you never saw, how does creativity take hold in a world like this?" she said.
The anthology will debut in the US first, with a Japanese release possible but as yet unscheduled. "For a while it was the number one Western book preorder on Amazon Japan," Applegate said.
"It's so different from what many of us do, I think it stretches us creatively," Leth said. "Our stories are 20 pages -- it's a comic issue," she added, noting this distinguishes it from other anthology work.